Finland has one of the largest bear populations in Europe, estimated at around 2,000. Several companies offer bear-watching trips in the Lakeland area between April and September. Overnight stays in hides are on offer, eg at Martinselkonen Nature Reserve and at Boreal Wildlife Centre, while at the Bear Centre in Vartius you can stay in individual ‘luxury’ viewing cabins overnight. Perfect for photographers, there is a very high chance of seeing bears on your visit, and you may be lucky enough to see elusive wolverines or even wolves. visitfinland.com
Slovakia has over 1,200 bears, most of them in the Tatras Mountains, the north-westernmost stretch of the Carpathians. Keen and fit walkers can join a Walking with Bears in Slovakia trip from Walks Worldwide to try and catch a sight of them. Rather than sitting around in a hide, this is an active trip that tracks bears in the Tatras National Park. Accompanied by a ranger, you will learn about the lifestyle of these bears and how to spot their signs, all the while trekking through glorious, untrammelled scenery. walksworldwide.com
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